Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wordless Wednesday 151: Some of my Neighbors are Real Turkeys

Wild turkeys are native to Wisconsin, but in the 1880s they were wiped out due to destruction of habitat and over-hunting. In the 1970s, the state's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) brought 350 turkeys in from Missouri. As the populations grew, they were distributed in other areas and are once again found throughout the entire state, particularly in southern Wisconsin.

It is not unusual to see a few birds roaming urban neighborhoods, especially those near parks and nature preserves. On the evening the following photos were taken, I encountered seven birds in one end of a nearby park -- a few days earlier there had been fourteen. I sat on the edge of the vacant basketball court and watched a while as they ranged between the edge of the park (coming within a few yards of me) and a neighboring backyard's birdfeeders. Urban wild turkeys have grown used to the presence of pesky humans, and will generally leave you alone so long as you leave them alone. I enjoy seeing them during my walks, and they are so ungainly that watching them run always makes me laugh.


Wordless Wednesday

Create With Joy

Monday, September 29, 2014

Teaser Tuesday 236: Phantom of the Opera

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current book or recent read.
* Share a few "teaser" sentences from somewhere in the book.
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away. You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!

Though I haven't yet finished Lolita (see last week's teaser), I spent the weekend reading another classic, The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Leroux's writing style makes this a thoroughly readable -- and enjoyable -- story.

"The Opera Ghost!"

Jammes yelled these words in a tone of unspeakable terror; and her finger pointed, among the crowd of dandies, to a face so pallid, so lugubrious and so ugly, with two such deep black cavities under the straddling eyebrows, that the death's head in question immediately scored a huge success.

(Chapter 3)

Watch Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Free eBook from Project Gutenberg * Free eBook from Amazon


The little known, brilliant original text by Gaston Leroux has been immortalized by screen and stage adaptations. One of the greatest horror stories of all time, "The Phantom of the Opera" makes compulsive reading. It abounds with wonderful descriptions, extraordinary events, tragedy, horror, pathos, tremendous humor and a gallery of charming minor characters. Leroux's portrait of the hideous musician, crazed by his own extreme ugliness, shows compassionate insight into a criminally insane mind. Music infuses the story, enriching the many dimensions of the novel which is steeped in the glamour of life at the Paris Opera. The author's knowledge of the building itself and the extraordinary history of its construction create a basis of realism in the story. Incredible, seemingly supernatural elements are artfully fused with real facts, with references to real people, places and events, so that the novel becomes a dazzling blend of illusion and reality. It is hard to distinguish between them, and the result is that each chilling moment is intensified. Gaston Leroux was a master of his genre.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Round Lighthouse

I sttitched this round lighthouse design back in 2007 for a friend. It was intended as a Christmas present but, during the course of searching for a suitable frame -- round, with a five inch opening -- I misplaced it. I searched through every craft bin, though I could not remember packing it away. I feared I might have forgotten it at some shop while looking for a frame, never to see it again. Then two years ago while unpacking after a move, I stumbled upon it in a most unlikely box. One would have thought that, were I going to pack it away, I would do so with like materials, but no. It was in a mislabeled box along with a few other items I had been missing, such as a three-hole punch.

In any case, the small design was missing for five years, until I opened that mystery box and reclaimed it. Then, of course, I had to begin the frame search all over. For a year I haunted every local crafts store, as well as a few others, fruitlessly hunting for a round frame with appropriate-sized opening. At last, I finally found one -- the only problem? It was black and ill-suited to such a pastel piece. Sigh . . .

The frame being the right size and the odds of my finding anything more suited, I decided to paint it. I meant to take a "before" shot, but naturally forgot the instant I sat down with paint and brush. A first coat went on, and though I liked the sort of "weathered" look the black showing through the off-white gave it, the brush-strokes were not even and were gloppy in spots. A friend suggested I sponge on the second coat. This made the color more uniform but, alas, I lost the "weathered" look. Ah, well . . . such is the price we pay, and it did turn out lovely in the end.

The reason I had not shared this before now, even though it was a 2013 Christmas gift, was because I did not see the person for whom it was intended until last weekend. They now live out of state, and I did not want to risk shipping it. Plus, I wanted to see my friend's face when she opened it.

Source: Seaside Sentinels, Leisure Arts (2001)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Skywatch Friday 75

Sunset as seen in car side mirror, taken Saturday, September 20:

LINKING TO: Skywatch Friday

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thursday Thirteen 352: Challenged Books I've Read

It's Banned Book Week! Here are some of the challenged books I've read that can be found on my shelves. Some of these were childhood favorites, while others have been read more recently.

01. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle (offensive language, occult themes, undermines religious values)

02. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (offensive language, sexual references, Burned in Nazi bonfires in 1933)

03. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (violence, offensive language, drug/alcohol use, unchristian values)

04. Peter Pan by J.M. Barie (racism, promotes homosexuality, drug use, miscreantism)

05. Forever by Judy Blume (offensive language, sexual content, disobedience to parents)

06. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume (offensive language, sexual situations, use of alcohol)

07. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (offensive language, sexual content, irreligious)

08. The Giver by Lois Lowry (violence, sexual references, occult themes, infanticide/euthanasia)

09. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (offensive language, drug/alcohol use, sexual references)

10. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (offensive language, promotes "secular humanism, New Age religion, occultism, and Satanism.")

11. The Chocolate War by Robert Cornmier (offensive language, violence, sexual references)

12. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marques (offensive language, violence, sexual content)

13. The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (excessive violence, negative portrayals of female characters, anti-Semitic references, witchcraft, alcohol)

Have you read any of these books?

LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Wordless Wednesday 150: Frost Asters

I've been seeing a lot of these lovely white frost asters this year, which bloom into mid-October. I especially like the way they look in amongst the drying white vervain (first photo), and the way they stand out against the reddening leaves of sumac.


Wordless Wednesday

Create With Joy

Monday, September 22, 2014

Teaser Tuesday 235: Lolita

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current book or recent read.
* Share a few "teaser" sentences from somewhere in the book.
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away. You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!

This week I am reading Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov for a classics group read. I held off starting this one to coincide with Banned Books Week, which runs Sept 21-27. Here are the opening paragraphs:

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.

(Part One, Ch 1)


Lolita is a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, written in English and published in 1955 in Paris, in 1958 in NY and in 1959 in London. It was later translated by its Russian-native author into Russian. The novel is notable for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator, a 37–38-year-old literature professor, Humbert Humbert, is obsessed with the 12-year-old Dolores Haze, with whom he becomes sexually involved after he becomes her stepfather. "Lolita" is his private nickname for Dolores (both the name and nickname are of Spanish origin).

After its publication, Lolita attained a classic status, becoming one of the best-known and most controversial examples of 20th century literature. The name "Lolita" has entered pop culture to describe a sexually precocious girl. The novel was adapted to film by Stanley Kubrick in 1962, and again in 1997 by Adrian Lyne. It has also been adapted several times for stage and has been the subject of two operas, two ballets and an acclaimed but failed Broadway musical.

Lolita is included on Time's List of the 100 Best Novels in English-language from 1923 to 2005. It's 4th on the Modern Library's 1998 list of the 100 Best Novels of the 20th century. It was also included in the 100 Best Books of All Time, compiled in 2002 by the Norwegian Book Club.

Banned Books Week 2014

This week is Banned Books Week here in the USA, a week when the ALA, in conjunction with many other organizations, brings to light books that have been challenged and/or banned. Yes, despite our First Amendment rights, there are those who are still trying to dictate what people should or should not be allowed to read -- many times without having read a particular book themselves.

From the ALA's website:

The ALA promotes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them.

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.

Here is a list of the ten most frequently challenged books, according to the 2013 State of America's Library Report (I have read two on this list):

1.“Captain Underpants” (series), by Dav Pilkey. Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence

2.“The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence

3.“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie. Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

4.“Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E. L. James. Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

5.“The Hunger Games,” (series) by Suzanne Collins. Reasons: Religious viewpoint, violence, unsuited to age group

6.“A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl,” by Tanya Lee Stone. Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit

7.“Looking for Alaska,” by John Green.Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

8.“The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky. Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

9.“Bless Me Ultima,” by Rudolfo Anaya. Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit

10.“Bone” (series), by Jeff Smith. Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence

Click here for a comprehensive list of Challenged Books in 2013-14, and here for a list of Banned & Challenged Classics.

I also found an interesting article from The Independent in the UK, BANNED: Books you could have been jailed for reading -- which includes the book I am reading this week, Lolita by Vladimir NabokovLolita was banned in many countries when it was initially published in 1955, though not in the USA. Now, of course, it frequently pops up on lists of challenged books for sexual content.

Celebrate the First Amendment and your right to read this week by picking up one of the many challenged or banned books on these lists!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Skywatch Friday 74

I was walking up through the restored prairie towards the neighborhood park Thursday evening when this turkey -- one of sixteen! -- sauntered across the summit of the hill. I couldn't resist capturing his silhouette against the evening sky. Some of the birds are looking a bit scruffy these days as they are molting, leaving feathers all over the place.

LINKING TO: Skywatch Friday

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Thursday Thirteen 351: Fun Fungi

It isn't unusual to find a wide variety of fungi in the nearby woods, but there's been so much rain this summer that patches of mushrooms have been sprouting everywhere, including well-kept lawns. As I was returning home from a Curtis Prairie walk two weeks ago, I noted the usual suspects along the wooded trails. What I didn't expect was an entire plantation of mushrooms, of all shapes and sizes, under the walnut trees at the nearby park. There are hundreds of them.

While I couldn't resist stopping to photograph them, I did not pick any. Never, ever pick any sort of mushroom unless you know what it is, and that it is not poisonous. The UW Arboretum occasionally features free guided walks on mushrooms, the most recent being this past Sunday and geared towards families/children. Their October 26 walk is about "Autumn Woodlands" and will talk specifically about fall leaves, mushrooms, "and other delights" (to use their words).

Here are some of the fungi I saw during the course of my walk two weeks ago. The first four photos were taken at Grady Tract/UW Arboretum, while the rest are from a local park. As always, click on any photo for a larger view.

Your classic mushroom shape.

Watch out for poison ivy, whether photographing or picking mushrooms in the woods!

Fungi and moss cover a rotting log.

Someone's been nibbling . . .

Mushrooms as far as the eye can see . . .

Doesn't this one look so elegant?

There were a lot of these huge "loaf" type mushrooms.

I don't think I want to know what that white gunk is.

This fluted bowl-shaped one was near the lone crabapple at the park.

LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wordless Wednesday 149: Gentians

During Sunday's walk at Grady Tract/UW Arboretum, we found four of the five species of gentians that bloom on Arboretum prairies: Stiff, Bottle, Downy and Fringed. These beautiful fall flowers bloom late August into October, and range in color from lilac to a deep blue-purple.

Stiff Gentians bloom early September to late October.

Stiff Gentians grow in limestone regions, requiring calcareous soils,
and are found on dry, medium and wet prairies.

Bottle Gentians bloom August to mid-October, in wet-medium
prairies, in sun or partial shade.

Bottle Gentians are pollinated by larger bees and bumblebees -- they have to be
heavy enough to shoulder the front end of their bodies inside, as this gentian
does not open as most flowers do.

Downy Gentians typically flower early September to mid-October.

Downy Gentians remain closed on dark or cloudy days to protect
their nectar and delicate insides, only opening to the sun.

Fringed Gentians are my favorite,
and one of the rarer due to habitat loss.

Fringed Gentians bloom mid-August to October, in wet prairies,
marshes and sedge meadows. They may be abundant one year,
and non-existant the next.

Beautiful Fringed Gentian and two buds.


Wordless Wednesday